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The importance of the head grower

The success of a company is given in large part by its employees. Especially when it comes to large-scale agricultural operation, it is critical to rely on someone that is very much aware of the nuances of large-scale growing. This might prove to be difficult in the cannabis industry since it is hard to find someone that knows both cannabis and large-scale cultivation. In his book “From Seed to Success”, consultant Ryan Douglas discusses the most important things when it comes to managing a cannabis operation, especially during the initial setup phase.

One of the first pieces of advice that Ryan gives is to avoid creating what he calls the “pancake effect”: this concept describes the suffocating effect that different layers of management have on the head grower, preventing them to do their job as intended. As he puts it, when multiple people coordinate all the aspects of the company, then the cultivation program can get slowed down in an entanglement of different powers. Indeed, Ryan asks: “Why to hire a skilled grower and then tell them what to do?” Thus, it would be better to escape micromanaging and hire excellent growers and let them do their job.

But then, it’s time to look up someone that takes care of setting up the cultivation plan. As mentioned, it can be hard to find someone with expertise in both cannabis and large-scale cultivation. Since cannabis has been illicit for many years, hiring someone that knows how to grow cannabis only might not be the best idea if they are put in charge of large-scale cultivation. That is why Ryan says that it is better to bet on someone that has a proven track record of successful large-scale cultivation projects in ornamental or vegetable growing, as the knowledge of these other crops can be partially transferred into cannabis.

Yet, the head grower is not in charge of that only. Indeed, head growers need to be able to manage people and have conflict resolution skills. In a previous interview with Jason Talmage, he pointed out that “You need to know how to manage the budget, how to come up with repeatable SOPs. On top of this, you need to create training programs, meet with vendors: the duties of a head grower are vast, and a lot of people think the job is only related to growing.”
Thus, head growers need to be actual leaders and be of example to the other employees, as they will help to establish the company culture.

Jason Talmage during the GrowUp Conference


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